Chapter 111: The Preliminaries Begin!
The weather had turned chilly.
Entrance to Beijing University.
Today, the school was sealed off. It only allowed the school’s students and teachers, as well as the Couplet Competition staff and contestants, to enter. Hence, all of the other entrances to the school were closed, leaving only the main gate and the largest side gate open. There was even a sign erected. The side gate was for students and teachers, while the main gate was used for the admission of the Couplet Competition’s relevant personnel and spectators. There wasn’t a lack of security. Many of the school’s security guards were gathered here, and there were more than ten people. Because there were more extreme events happening frequently in society these days, the security check was done more strictly.
Zhang Ye was also being inspected.
“Hello. Please show me your tickets,” a Couplet Organization staff said.
Zhang Ye, who had come early, took advantage of not needing to line up to enter the school, but he was stopped. He said, “I’m a contestant.”
The youth looked at him, “May I know what your name is?”
“I’m Zhang Ye. Please check for me. The Writers’ Association should have given me a pass,” Zhang Ye said.
“Alright, let me take a look.” The youth immediately called out to a colleague to bring a suitcase over. Inside were the contestant passes. “Zhang Ye…Zhang Ye…” After rummaging for a while, the youth frowned, “Sorry, there’s no contestant pass with your name.” Then looking at the name list, “Zhang Ye, right? The contestant name list submitted by the Writers’ Association doesn’t have you. Sorry, but I won’t be able to let you in.”
“It doesn’t have me?” Zhang Ye could not stifle his laughter.
The people from the Couplet Organization thought that Zhang Ye was purposely here to mess things up and enter, so they ignored him and checked the tickets of others.
Zhang Ye could smell a rat at this moment. Was it really as he had guessed? The Beijing Writers’ Association inviting him was a scheme to pay him back with his own coin? They were determined to make things difficult for him and disgust him? But aren’t your methods too low-class? Or could it be that he was an eyesore to a minority of people from the Writers’ Association, so they had schemed against him? And the people from the upper echelons of the Writers’ Association and the Couplet Organization were uninformed of this? He felt this was most likely. Anyway, no matter what, someone had definitely done something behind the scenes. They had made an error, forgetting Zhang Ye’s contestant pass? This possibility was almost zero!
The official admission time came.
There were quite a lot of people lined up at the school gate. They were beginning to enter.
Hu Fei brought Hou Ge, Hou Di, Dafei and Xiao Lu with him, and they just arrived. The moment they reached, they noticed a gloomy-looking Zhang Ye nearby.
“Yo, Teacher Zhang!” Xiao Lu shouted.
Dafei also waved his hands, “Teacher Zhang, over here!”
Zhang Ye walked up, and Hu Fei and company walked over too. Hu Fei asked in surprise, “Little Zhang, why haven’t you entered? The preliminaries have already begun, right? Contestants like you should enter much earlier than us.”
Zhang Ye threw up his hands, “I can’t get in. The Beijing Writers’ Association did not prepare a contestant pass for me. Although they invited me, my name isn’t on the invitation list.”
“What? Such a thing can happen?” Hou Ge immediately turned angry.
Hou Di also understood immediately as he gritted his teeth, “F***, aren’t they being bullies?”
They had recently gotten to know of Zhang Ye’s previous matters. They knew that he had offended quite a number of people from the Beijing Writers’ Association, including its Vice President Meng Dongguo. However, in their opinion, the Writers’ Association was such a big organization that wouldn’t be so petty. Since they had invited Teacher Zhang Ye, they were probably making leeway in order to then rope Zhang Ye in. That was the reason why they had encouraged Zhang Ye to join the competition yesterday. However, who knew that they were too naive? They had invited Zhang Ye, but would not allow him entry? Were they bent on disgusting him?
On the web, many of Zhang Ye’s fans knew that he was participating in the competition. Many of them were full of anticipation, waiting in front of their computers for the live stream to begin. In the end, Zhang Ye did not even enter the gates? If someone asked, would the Beijing Writers’ Association just explain it away with, “Zhang Ye gave up on his own accord”? That would make the fans grumble at Zhang Ye and, at the same time, strike a blow to his reputation. If someone investigated, the Writers’ Association could simply say, “Oh, a subordinate made a mistake and did not process the contestant pass.” They could push the blame just like that? It was too despicable!
“Those bunch of grandsons!” Hou Ge cursed!
Hu Fei’s face was also sullen, “Little Zhang, have you called the person who contacted you?”
“Well, I was just about to call.” Zhang Ye called the woman from the Couplet Organization who had contacted him from before, “Hello, I’m Zhang Ye.”
There was a lot of noise on her side. She was probably busy. “Zhang Ye? Oh, Teacher Zhang Ye. Why haven’t you entered? Can’t you come? Our preliminaries have just begun.”
Zhang Ye said, “I’m already here, but I can’t enter.” He explained the situation.
The woman clearly did not know of the situation. She was stunned, “How can that be? The Writers’ Association should have done the necessary work for you. Alright, I’ll give them a call. I’ll try to arrange it for you.”
After hanging up, Zhang Ye said, “Why don’t all of you go in first?”
“If you aren’t going, what’s the point of us going?” Xiao Lu said, “If we are going in, we must all go in together!”
Hu Fei reached into his bag and passed him a ticket. “Take my ticket and enter first. Take part in the preliminaries first. Since they invited you, even if they did something underhanded, your name must be on the namelist of the Couplet Organization. They just need to provide you a contestant pass.”
Zhang Ye waved his hands, “There’s no need. Go in first.” They had all taken the pains to travel here, so how could he go in himself while leaving them outside?
Suddenly, there were a few shouts!
“Haha! Little Zhang!”
“Teacher Little Zhang! Here, here!”
“Why are you here, too? Oh, right! You are here to compete!”
The people who came were Zhang Ye’s former colleagues, Big Sis Zhou, Auntie Sun and assistant Xiaofang. After greeting them, Zhao Guozhou looked to be a bit further behind them. Zhao Guozhou and a few staff and Leaders of the radio station’s other channels were there. Seeing Zhang Ye, Zhao Guozhou smiled and walked over.
“Little Zhang, it’s been a while.” Zhao Guozhou laughed.
Zhang Ye blinked and immediately went over to say, “Brother Zhao, do you have any extra tickets?”
“Entry tickets? Too many people on your side came? You don’t have enough tickets? That can’t be. Your television station should have more tickets than our radio station.” Zhao Guozhou was puzzled. The Beijing Radio Station and the Beijing Television Station had long merged together. The tickets were first handed out to the television station. Only the leftovers were handed over to the radio station. They were considered one, and their seats were even side by side.
Zhang Ye said helplessly, “No. I can’t get in. They didn’t prepare a contestant pass for me.”
Upon hearing this, Zhao Guozhou understood what could have happened, “Do we have tickets?”
Big Sis Zhou said, “No, everyone has only one. This Couplet Competition is too popular. It’s not easy to get tickets.”
“I’ll ask around for you.” Zhao Guozhou went to ask the Leaders from the other departments.
Xiaofang immediately said, “Teacher Zhang, use my ticket. I happen to have something to do and didn’t want to come in the first place.” Everyone knew that she was lying.
Zhang Ye shook his head, adamant about not wanting it.
Just as they were looking for tickets, Tian Bin and his wife suddenly appeared, hand in hand. By now, Tian Bin was one of the hottest late-night segment anchors of the Central Radio Station. Under his hands, ‘Ghost Blows Out the Light’ had reached even greater heights. His ratings were even higher than when Zhang Ye was at the Beijing Radio Station. Afterall, the Central Radio Station could be received throughout the country, so its exposure was many times more than the Beijing Radio Station. These results were no wonder. Besides, the Central Radio Station was a huge station. It had no lack of tickets, so Tian Bin would naturally get them, which meant that he could also bring his wife.
“Zhang Ye.” Tian Bin’s wife waved at him with a smile.
Tian Bin had probably heard their conversation, so he pushed a ticket into Zhang Ye’s hands. “I have four tickets. The two friends I invited could not come, as they had to work overtime. I’m giving it to you.”
Zhang Ye asked for confirmation, “This isn’t your own ticket, right?”
“No,” Tian Bin was amused, “I might not give you my ticket, even if you wanted it.”
“Alright then. Thanks a lot.” Zhang Ye accepted it.
Tian Bin said, “Hurry and go. They thought a tiny trick or two can trample on you? Let the people from the Beijing Writers’ Association know who Teacher Zhang Ye is!”
Zhang Ye laughed, “Alright!”
Following that, everyone lined up to enter.
After chatting with his former colleagues and Leader, they entered the school gates. Zhang Ye walked together with his new colleagues and Hu Fei, and went straight to a small square in the center of the school. This was where the preliminaries were being held. Only those who could pass the preliminaries had the qualification to participate in the Couplet Competition in the large hall.
It had begun some time ago.
There was not even much time left.
Xiao Lu was more worried than Zhang Ye, “Teacher Little Zhang, hurry up. The people of the Writers’ Association did that, so as to deal a blow to your reputation. They might have even thought of the scenario where even if you managed to get a ticket to enter, the preliminaries would almost be over due to the delay. If you can’t even pass the preliminary, they will definitely say how lacking you are. They will smear you, and then win back the reputation they lost the last time. So, we definitely cannot lose to them! We must enter the finals! Let them know how good you are! Let them recall the scene of them being hit in the face by you in the Mid Autumn Poetry Meet!”
Hu Fei recalled something, “None of you have even asked Little Zhang if he knows anything about couplets. This is a different domain than writing poems or essays. It’s completely different.”
Only then did Hou Ge realize, “Oh, right. Teacher Little Zhang, do you know?”
Zhang Ye sweated, “Not really. I’m not very sure either.”
“What’s there not to be sure about?” Xiao Lu said, “Just say if you have ever studied couplets before?”
“No.” Zhang Ye admitted honestly. In his world, couplets were popular only in ancient times. As for modern times? Other than cultural hipsters or scholars who still studied couplets, at the most, he had seen some Millennial Impossibilities left behind from ages long ago. However, he was still unsure what the couplet situation of this world was. He did not know if what he knew could be used.
“You really haven’t?” Xiao Lu lost heart.
Hou Ge also sighed, “Then there’s no other way.”
Hou Di said, “It’s alright. We can come up with a strategy to help Teacher Zhang. Let’s enter the finals first. I still know a bit about matching couplets.”
Xiao Lu said, “I also know a bit. I once did a special article about it previously in the newspaper business.”